The next phase of healthcare innovation, per 1 spine surgeon

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Healthcare technology is about to enter a new era of innovation with an increased focus on targeted care, according to Ronjon Paul, MD.

Dr. Paul is a spine surgeon with Duly Health and Care in Downers Grove, Ill. He recently spoke with Becker's about how he expects technology to evolve in the next year and what he's most proud of from 2023.

Editor's note: These responses were lightly edited for clarity and length.

Question: What are you most proud of from the last year?

Dr: Ronjon Paul: There's a lot to be proud of. Healthcare is about to enter a supercycle of innovation. It's going to be built on technologies, some new [and] some older but related to an artificial intelligence-based paradigm. I think we're going to see more precise, personal and targeted care. I think it's going to transform orthopedic surgery, spine surgery [and] healthcare delivery overall. I think that's where we're headed and that's where we've been trending for a few years, but I think over the next 12 to 18 months we're going to see more and more innovation. I think it's going to be spearheaded by physicians, along with people in the technology industry. There's going to be vast advancements in medtech, but we're also going to see quite a bit of advancement in healthcare delivery.

Q: What excited you most about AI?

RP: These are really just technologies to take better advantage of the data that's already out there. I am optimistic that we're going to come up with ways that make healthcare decision-making in particular far more personal. I think we're going to have care navigation become far more effective, and not just with algorithms and regular decision-making but things that are very specific to the patients, more complex and more nuanced in the information it's leaning on to make those recommendations for patient care. I think all of this needs to be done through the lens of a physician. I'm not necessarily advocating that this be automated in any way, but I think having physicians really involved in innovation is what I'm most excited about this next year. 

Q: What trends in healthcare are you following?

RP: The trend I'm seeing most is physicians getting more involved in innovation, [particularly with] digital pharmaceuticals and adaptive real-time treatments. The reason I think physicians are going to be more involved is many doctors, especially experienced doctors, have already been implementing these sorts of processes intuitively in their heads, just based on years of experience. I think their ability to make that more consistent [and] more congruent to take some of those inherent abilities and apply them using the new technologies is going to enhance analytics and streamline healthcare delivery.

In that vein of enhanced analytics, I think we're going to see more precise disease diagnosis. I think we're going to see more impressive patient monitoring that's more relevant. I think we're going to see better patient population risk stratification. We're going to see better and better adaptive clinical workflows. I think we're going to see optimized health management even at the systems level [and] at multiple levels. And I think this is all going to be very disruptive for healthcare.

Q: What are you most excited about for 2024?

RP: Some of these innovations are really being adopted and developed in the venture capital and startup ecosystem. It's been a very troubled space recently. I'd like to be optimistic and believe that we're going to see some improvements in that space over the next year and during 2024. To that extent, I'm hoping some of these newer technologies that are really patient-centered get to evolve and flourish.

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